Work and live in New Zealand permanently

Here are the visa options if you want to live in New Zealand permanently, and your visa application will be based on your occupation or skills.


  • Skilled Migrant Category - for people who have the skills, qualifications and experience New Zealand needs.
  • Work to Residence - for people who:
  • are qualified in occupations that are in demand in New Zealand, or
  • have a job offer from an accredited employer, or
  • have exceptional talent in sports or the arts

Who can apply?

To be eligible for residence under SMC you must:

  • Be 55 or under
  • Be healthy
  • Be of good character
  • Speak English

To decide if you can apply we use a points system. You get points for age, experience, employability and qualifications.


How to apply?

There are two steps:

  • 1. You complete an Expression of Interest, telling us about yourself, your family, your skills and your experience.
  • 2. If you have enough points, we accept your Expression of Interest, and send you an Invitation to Apply. You complete it, and return it to us with your supporting documents.

The Skilled Migrant Category Points Indicator

This points indicator is a guide only. Its sole use is for you to get an indication of whether you would qualify for the 100 points that you need to submit an Expression of Interest. Your final, true points score will be the one that is assessed by our branch staff when assessing your EOI.


Can I apply under the Skilled Migrant Category?

If you want to qualify under the Skilled Migrant Category, there are some requirements you must meet.


Minimum standards

You can include your partner and dependent children in your application, but you all have to meet these standards.

  • Health: You must be healthy. If you are invited to apply for residence, you and your family will have to be assessed by an approved doctor.
  • Character: You and your family must be of good character. We don't allow some people who have committed serious crimes to come to New Zealand.
  • English language: You and your family will need to meet a certain level of ability in spoken and written English. See 'Find out more', below.
  • Occupational registration: If you need occupational registration and do not have it, you will not be able to work in your chosen occupation under the Skilled Migrant Category.

English language requirements

Everyone included in your Skilled Migrant Category application will have to meet our minimum standards of English. The standard that the principal applicant must meet is different to the standard his/her partner and children must meet.


Principal applicants

For the principal applicant (the person making the application) the minimum standard of English is an International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) certificate, with an overall band score of 6.5 or better in the General or Academic modules. The certificate must be less than two years old.

However, you may not have to take the IELTS test, if you can show us that you:

  • Have a recognised qualification from a course taught entirely in English
  • Have ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand, and have been in the job for at least the last 12 months
  • Have other evidence that you are competent in English - we will consider the evidence that you provide.

Partners and children

Everyone else included in the application who is aged 16 and over must also meet a minimum standard of English. We accept the following proof of ability:

  • A recognised qualification from a course taught entirely in English.
  • You are in ongoing skilled employment in New Zealand, and have been for at least 12 months
  • You have sufficient schooling in English:
  • Primary and at least three years' secondary schooling
  • Five years' secondary schooling, or
  • Tertiary course of at least three years' length.
  • You have sufficient schooling in English:
  • You have certain secondary certificates with passes in English classes.
  • You have a recent IELTS certificate with an overall band score of 5 or better in the General or Academic modules.

In all cases, we may still require an IELTS certificate.

Work experience

You may be able to claim points for your previous work experience. However, your experience must be relevant. It must be:

  • In the same field as your recognised qualification, or
  • In the same field as your current employment in New Zealand/your offer of skilled employment in New Zealand

Another way you can get points for your work experience is if the work experience required, or helped you gain, specialist, technical, or management skills and experience. Those skills and experience must be relevant to an occupation that may be considered skilled employment.


Family categories

We have a range of family categories to help partners, dependent children and parents of New Zealand citizens or residents to come to live in New Zealand.


Living in New Zealand

New Zealand welcomes new migrants - people who will contribute to our country by bringing valuable skills or qualifications, setting up a business, or making a financial investment. These include people applying under the following categories.

  • Skilled Migrant Category
  • Business and investment categories

We also offer opportunities for family reunification by allowing residents and citizens to sponsor family members for residence.